Letters from the Settlement: June

Did I promise to write this letter from Out There? I’m not Out There yet. We’re moving out in the middle of July, because nothing ever happens as fast as you wish it would. So I have had one more June here in my temperate deciduous, and I have tried to enjoy it.

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The real summer heat often holds off ’til the Fourth of July. This spring had its share of heat and humidity, as well as buckets of rains. The flooding hasn’t been as bad as last year, but rivers are overflowing their banks and some of our favorite roads and paths have been washed out.

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The springtime flowers are gone. Elderflowers are the only blossoms in the shady woods. In sunnier cleared patches the milkweed is almost finished, the fleabane is at its peak, and the compass plant is fixing to bloom. Dragonflies are everywhere; big ones, little ones, black ones, blue ones, white-patched ones. Our daughter is afraid of them.

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Speaking of our daughter and fear . . . a lot of it has left her this summer, now that she is four years old. She runs, climbs, jumps, slides, and goes chin-deep in the water without hesitation. In previous summers I’ve been grateful to be the mother of a physical coward. This year requires a little more vigilance on my part. This morning she fell in a mud puddle, but there has been–thank heavens–no blood and no broken bones. Yet. Touch wood.

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Berries are ripening in succession, here. Raspberries. Wild strawberries. Black raspberries. Blackberries. Mulberries. Serviceberries. Last–much later in the season–there will be elderberries. All the rain has brought on a fine crop of toadstools, too. Our daughter is well trained to leave them alone, but recently a bunch opened that were concave on top and looked like flowers. We had some emergency hand-washing followed by an impromptu botany lesson.

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Animals are hot and lazy. Deer are active; they had a lean winter and are keeping the forest’s undergrowth in check. Chipmunks are everywhere. I stopped seeing the mysterious black animal, though I’m still sure it was a rabbit. Possibly it was a black squirrel without a tail . . . ? No, I saw bunny ears on it. I’m sure I did.

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The food of the month has been animal protein. After being off it for months, I am back on. Grilled salmon. Barbecue ribs. Kefta baked in tomato sauce, with eggs. Lots of cool summer salads, too. I like to shave zucchini into ribbons and eat it like a salad, instead of lettuce. Lots of raw vegetable trays, too, which attract our small daughter.

Next month I really will be out there. I’m so excited to share it with you.

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